Narco Police logo

DINAMIC £24.99 * Joystick, mouse and keyboard

Goddamn the pusher! Dinamic, the action specialists from Spain, have extrapolated the current drug crisis forward into the year 2003 and what they see is bleak. One fifth of the entire world are addicts and the drug czars have immense power. The Narco Police are the answer to this problem, and their solution is final.

Three teams of heavily-armed troopers are sent into attack an underground-island drug lab. The team are controlled individually and are viewed from behind as they run down the cave tunnels. When one gets blasted another steps up to take his place a few yards back down the corridor. You can swap between the various teams and choose either to take one unit on or work all three groups as an overall force.

Shot in The Dark
The soldiers are simple folk. Once you've stopped off at the weapons shop and been directed to a tunnel, they just plod along doing what you tell them to. Until they fall over dead that is, after being shot, which isn't their fault. They follow the stick movements every way except backwards - this is used for changing ammunition - and for changing ammunition - and therefore cannot backtrack.

Firing is controlled by pressing the fire-button whilst moving the joystick to aim the gun. All pretty normal really, with you waving the gun in the direction of the druggie. All the other weapons and equipment are used via a 'type-in' computer panel. This control every from launching missiles to teleporting in extra NPs.

The boys wander the corridors trying to find the elusive CPL (Central Processing Laboratories) and are constantly surprised by hordes of guards, automatic gun cameras and laser trackers. All these have to be blasted out with different ammunition. Occasionally they change upon machine-gun nests, tanks and doors which require special treatment, but do signify the end of a section.

Walk Like a Man
It is not the shooting - which is delightfully loud - and the mapping that makes NP so impressive, but the fluid movement of the characters. Walking is seen from three, slightly different, perspectives, also the shoulders dip as the gun sweeps around and the NPs fly backwards, bloody gushing, when shot. Each frame of movement has been well thought out and animated, to create realism and heighten tension.

The computer the NPs carry is supposed to free the joystick for fighting and moving. Yet the 'computer' is very sensitive and typing errors earn an 'unknown command' message. This leaves you expect a missile, but nothing happens, very embarrassing and dangerous.

In the second stage the ordinary soldiers are replaced by hardened mercenaries. This toughness is not be sneered at as it ensures hours of play, but it's only for the determined and not just thrill seekers.

Narco Police requires repeated playing at first to find the right route and then some hard blasting to make it through. The correct munitions must be selected, the right tunnels chosen and all the battles won. Backed up by great animation and sound effects the Narco Police should be shooting for the top.

Instead of enemies leaping down from the ceilings or remote machine-guns popping out of the walls occasinally, a terminal drops from the ceiling. This allows one team to help their fellow Narco Police by deactivating obstacles that lie in other corridors. This terminal can deactivate the machine-guns (DG), deactivate the cameras (DC0), open doors (O), check the team's stats (S) and call up a map (M). This way only one of the teams has to carry explosives and the other two take the heat off them as they try to reach the labs.

Viel Blut um nichts

Narco Police logo

Drogen beherrschen die Welt, zumindest im Jahre 2003. Um dem Problem Herr zu werden, greift man auf ein altbewährtes Rezept zurück: Eine polizeiliche Eliteeinheit wird gebildet, jahrelang trainiert und schließlich zum Hauptquartier der Rauschgitmafia geschickt...

Und hier beginnt auch schon Deine Aufgabe als frischgebackener Drogenbekämpfer: Das Hauptquartier befindet sich auf einer Insel und ist zudem nur durch ein gut gesichertes Labyrinthsystem zu erreichen.

Du befehligst drei Gruppen von je fünf Leuten (die Jungs sind natürlich schwerstens bewaffnet, z.B. mit MPs und diversen Granatwerfern) und sollst das Rauschgiftlabor im Zentrum der Anlage in die Luft sprengen.

Auf dem Screen zu sehen ist von der ganzen Elitetruppe aber nur ein Mann, den man (von hinten) dabei beobachten kann, wie er sich durch die Gänge kämpft.

Was die Präsentation betrifft, macht Narco Police anfangs einen wirklich vielversprechenden Eindruck; das fängt beim Titelbild (einem romantischen Sonnenuntergang) an und geht weiter über das Waffenmenü und die Übersichtskarte der Insel mit den verschiedenen Tunneleingängen.

Doch sobald die Geschichte richtig losgeht, folgt auch schon die Große Ernüchterung: Der Drogenbulle schleicht langsam und ruckelnd dahin, die Soundeffekte bieten praktisch keinerlei Abwechslung, und die Joysticksteuerung spricht so schlecht an, daß es eine Zumutung ist.

Zudem muß man immer wieder auf die Tastatur zurückgreifen, z.B. um eine andere Waffe zu aktivieren. Mit so haarsträubenden Methoden kann man gegen die Drogenmafia einfach nicht gewinnen! (wh)

Narco Police logo

Companies often try to work shoot 'em ups in with strategy - most of the time this fails. Narco Police, however, manages to combine the most popular styles of arcade games with a highly convincing strategy element.

The Narco Police, as the name suggests, are a drug enforcement unit. Equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, their purpose is to do battle with drug barons in the by now quite standard not-so-subtle manner.

To thwart the world drug problem once and for all, the NPs are planning to storm, via the tunnel network beneath it, the main drug cartel's island fortress. A twenty strong unit of heavily armed police are to infiltrate three of the five tunnels, which eventually lead to the main HQ.

The assault force is divided into three units of five men, with five units in reserve. Each unit uses computers to unlock doors, allowing the others to advance. It's possible to control fifteen men simultaneously, so you command the lead character of one group, with the other units held in 'storage' until you access them.

The tunnel graphics are built up in strips. This allows the screen to update smoothly with a good 3D effect. Used in Afterburner and Powerdrift, this technique has never been exploited to its full potential. Alas, it's the same case here. This slows the game, which is a shame as speed would have made a good product exceptional. However, the graphics for the police are excellent. The large, well animated figure adds immensely to the overall effect of the game, as do the size of the enemy troops you face.

A third of the screen is taken up by the command computer. This is used to switch between units, or to check on personnel status, set explosives, use missiles or to call in reinforcements. Above the play area is a group of status windows. These outline the physical shape of the team member currently being controlled and tell you what type of ammo he's using.

Don't worry if this sounds a bit stuffy, the arcade element is incredibly violent and fun. Had Narco Police been slightly faster it would definitely been a screen star. As it stands it's an enjoyable, thinking person's shoot 'em up.

Each Narco Policeman comes witha rocket launching machine gun that fires two types of bullets and three different missiles. Pulling back on the joystick swaps between bullet types, leading to accidental switches in the middle of fire fights and confusion, especially when you've run out of one type of bullet. To launch a missile a two digit command has to be entered on the NP's computer, a slow, and inconvenient system.

Narco Police logo

Ever since reading David's intro, Paul Lakin has fancied the life of a copper's nark - so we let him loose on Narco Police. (Now that is what I call a clot. Ed.)

Amiga reviewPaul: Robocop meets James Bond in this horizontal/into the screen shoot 'em up. Drug barons are holed up in an island headquarters and you must lead three squads of Narcotics Police (Narcos to their chums) in an attempt to flush them out and then flush them away. Since the drug dealers have invested 500 million dollars in their security, they are unlikely to be impressed by a copper with a truncheon and a pre-war Webley. Fortunately, you have a selection of weaponry that would be the envy of many modern armies.

As well as great firepower, success demands more than a tadge of strategic ability. There are five tunnels leading into the centre of the island but you command only three units of police. So as well as selecting each unit's equipment, you must decide which tunnel each unit will use to launch its attack.

Once in the tunnels all hell breaks loose. Enemies, machine gun posts and large mechanic doobries lie behind every corner waiting to be blasted. You will need to plug into computer terminals to help find your way through the tunnels and not just run round in circles like certain navigationally unsound ZERO reviewers.

The graphics are on the jerky side and the main sprite's joystick response is occasionally sluggish. More seriously, it is less than easy to aim at targets, the best tactic being all-round blasting. However, the main character sprite's animation is fairly realistic and the graphics are colourfully attractive. Like many Dinamic games, Narco Police verges a bit on the difficult side, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is exciting and atmospheric - and that is certainly a good thing.